Political socialization is defined as the “development of public attitudes and behavior towards institutions and people” by studying “the historical record and by analyzing observed political behavior.” This definition is at times taken to be the defining document of political science. The purpose of political science is to examine how politics affects the performance of society as a whole. In a broader sense, political science also studies how politics affect humanity as a whole. These are analyzed in the context of macro-scale activities such as political leadership, political systems, and political, economic systems.
The political process theory also claims that political socialization produces political efficacy. Why is this so? Because humans act according to what they understand about the world and their place in it, not because of any immediate reward or punishment that they can derive from it. They acquire their own understanding of right and wrong through observation and experience. Humans are extremely social creatures, and thus, they have the ability to cooperate when they know that they will be able to get a benefit by doing so. With this said, the system of politics as a whole has to take into consideration these factors in order for it to be effective.
Political Socialization Definition
In the United States, political parties have been conducting an ongoing experiment with the American people for decades. The experiments have been either directly or indirectly conducted. Direct experimentation refers to experiments that have been done to determine how members of society react to a given political system. An example of this is the administering of welfare programs based on a political orientation study. An indirect political process refers to the use of propaganda to change the political system.
Examples of direct political experimentation include the first major political gathering held by the United States during the First World War. At that gathering, the US President requested all Americans who were over eighteen years of age to form a committee. The members of this committee were then sent to evaluate the performance of the war effort. Another example of this political socialization process can be observed in the form of student councils that are formed at colleges and universities. Students are expected to participate in these student groups in order to learn how to work as a team. All this is done in an attempt to increase political awareness among citizens.
A Much Ado
In today’s modern society, political socialization occurs in various ways. Many parents, for instance, send their children to highly politically active daycare centers where they meet other children who share similar political orientations. Daycare centers also provide interaction with adults who share the same political views. This socialization process is also seen in the way children are introduced to the concept of money. Children learn about this from an early age and tend to become highly financially active as they grow older.
The goals of political socialization are twofold. First, it attempts to increase the overall political effectiveness of a population. Any successful political system is based on the ability of its citizens to participate in the political process and be satisfied with the outcomes. Second, increasing the political efficacy of a population also increases the sharing of that value system with the rest of the world. Any successful society ensures that its citizens accept the basic principles of society. By learning about and participating in the political process, children begin the process of learning about universal values and become highly political creatures themselves.
The other goal of political socialization is to reduce extreme forms of political prejudice. For instance, in a highly politically active nation, there is a high incidence of discrimination against those with dissimilar political views. By engaging in political socialization, individuals learn to appreciate the differences that bring all people together.
Overall, political socialization develops a set of values and attitudes that guide a person’s everyday life. People learn to deal with different kinds of people and to respect the different ways in which they interact. People develop the ability to evaluate the different policies and options available to them and to choose the best that suits their preferences and needs. Without such political processes in place, people develop generalized attitudes that serve only to privilege the powerful over the weak. The result is that in societies that practice political socialization, ordinary citizens become deeply committed to making politics an equal playing field for all.